ImageLast night one program after another was pre-empted in order for the news commentators to talk about the dropping of the "Imus in the Morning" simulcast by MSNBC, and the declaration of innocence of the accused lacrosse players from Duke University.  While I visited Duke University a couple of years ago and have friends who graduated from Duke, I have never listened to the radio programs that Don Imus is famous for.

As I listened to the whole controversy I was reminded of two passages from the Scriptures that talk about the tongue and the heart.  The tongue, says James, is such a small part of our body, yet it can set many things in motion. 

"When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.  Or take ships as an example.  Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.   Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.  Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praising and cursing.  My brothers, this should not be.  Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?  My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?  Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water." (James 3:3-10)


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Yet the tongue is not a disconnected organ.  It brings what is in the heart. 

"You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good?  For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."  (Mt. 12:34-37)

Imus spoke those awful words about the Rutgers women ‘s basketball team because in his heart he thought that such things are OK and acceptable.  Together with him in the studio were other people who thought the same way.  Together with him there was a vast audience who, when he said similar things in the past were not offended, or if they were offended, they gave him a pass.

The two-week suspension of Imus by the CBS and the dropping by MSNBC was a good thing. However, as I was listening last night to some of the people who agreed with the verdict, I was reminded of the passage that says: "Let him who is without a sin, cast the first stone" (John 8:7).  Some of the people casting stones last night, had their own evil words, events and actions for which they experienced mercy, instead of condemnation.

At the same time it seems that the defenders of Imus and the Duke lacrosse players never tired of using the word outstanding. The students were outstanding students, Imus was an outstanding philanthropist.  If the students were such outstanding students, how come they paid a stripper to entertain them? If they are the product of some of Christian schools, how come their entertainment is so vile?  If Imus is such an outstanding philanthropist, how come no one was willing to tell him that there are areas in his life that needed change.

I do think that the words that Imus had used were offensive and derogatory, not only to the students from Rutgers, but for all the women of the world.  Yet, I am asking myself if perhaps some of the women from Rutgers in their music collection had exactly the words of those songs which they have found so offensive in the mouth of Imus?  Or if the music of those singers that use these words are not bestsellers on the Rutgers campus and on thousands of other university campuses throughout the world?

It has been a good beginning.  I hope and I pray that those major corporations who pulled out and made the Imus program collapse will also stop sponsoring the music that uses these words.  I hope and pray that the musicians themselves will see how derogatory and damaging these words are and try to find other words to build up instead of tearing down.  I hope and pray that we will stop using derogatory language of any type in books, songs, and TV programs.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...